“This… is American Idol” versus “This… is how I would have murdered my wife.” It was the battle of a hit TV show and O.J. Simpson.
Sunday was an interesting night on TV. The question is: Did you watch either show?
American Idol made its return to TV, this time on Disney-owned ABC. It was a friendlier show with new judges and a host still feeling the burn of a sexual harassment scandal. (Earlier this year Ryan Seacrest was investigated about conduct dating back 10 years when he was on E!. He was cleared of wrongdoing after an internal investigation.)
Over on Fox, the former home of Idol, the network scrambled to come up with programming to run against Idol on ABC. It went for an unaired 2006 interview with Simpson where he spoke in “hypotheticals” about the night he, well, might have committed murder.
Idol’s return was highly promoted by its superstar judges Katy Perry and Luke Bryan. Arguably they are two of the hottest music artists out there right now. Were they enough to land an audience? They were and they weren’t.
While the Idol premiere was highly rated it actually debuted lower than the last season that aired on Fox. Early numbers reported first thing Monday morning showed Idol commanded 10.3 million viewers. By comparison, the 2016 premiere on Fox had 10.96. Not a huge difference but certainly a difference TV critics (and probably networks) noticed.
Hoping its bombshell Simpson interview would steal the audience, Fox aired the show with a panel discussion of a victim’s friend, a prosecutor from the infamous murder trial and “experts” to dissect the testimony in the interview.
I was interested to see which would have the better ratings given the current U.S. climate. Would viewers want a watered-down lovey dovey Disney singing competition or a gruesome story of murder?
In the end, it was Idol that won in numbers. The Fox special only garnered 4.4 million viewers when the early numbers were reported. Admittedly, there is often a different demographic tuned into a reality competition and a murder mystery story but you just never know these days.
I will admit I was pleasantly surprised TV watchers wanted singing over bloodshed.